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July 20, 2011
I received a set of these Imging sunglass cam before I left to Europe and was keen to test them out while riding some of the legendary roads I’d be visiting. A couple years ago I got a GoPro which I rate highly, but after a while I grew tired of mounting it on my helmet or bike with all the attachments. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s something you need to plan for.
The thing I like about this sunglass cam is that it’s extremely simple to use and it’s a piece of hardware that I’m already brining with me on a ride. No need for attachment harnesses or even any planning. You just put them on your face and go.
An 8GB micro SD card will give you nearly 2hrs of recording (expandable up to 32GB for more time) and a fully charged battery will also last 2hrs. To charge the battery you simply plug the USB into your computer or the electrical outlet attachment. The micro SD card slips into one of the sunglass arms and comes with a SD adaptor so you can put it in your card reader to get onto your computer. Easy.
Operating the camera while on the move is simple. You press a button on the left side of the sunglass arm to start and stop recording. There’s a blue flashing light on the inside of the arm while the camera is recording. It’s very easy to feel without looking.
There’s another button that changes the mode from video -> photo (Photo every 3 second mode – jpg format, 12MP). By default, when the device is powered up it will automatically begin on video mode so you’re never left wondering which mode it’s been left on.
The camera records in 1280x720p HD resolution (3MP) and has a 120 degree lens. The camera is located right between the eyes and is barely visible. Audio is recorded using a mic on the left arm of the sunglasses.
Before I begin, keep in mind that this sunglass cam retails for $149 AUD. That’s good value for money if you want something that records your ride in a convenient package that takes no mounting. Even though I relate some features to the GoPro and Contour, it’s not a fair comparison if price is a consideration.
The colors are a bit off and there is a disproportional amount of purple in the images in the video. If you’re expecting a high resolution 720p HD video quality, the capability of the lens to capture that level of HD video you might expect may disappoint you.
The lens has a 120 degree view angle. In comparison, the GoPro has a 127 -170 degree view angle and the Countour HD is 135 degrees. The wider the lens, the faster it looks like you’re going, and the less visible the camera shake is.
With regards to camera shake on this sunglass cam, I’d prefer to see a wider angle if being used for mountain biking. The 120 degree lens on this camera looks quite shaky on the computer monitor when I used it for mountain biking. I found these sunglasses didn’t fit on my face perfectly and they were jumping around when I was riding down the bumpy trails. On the road they are completely fine. However, as you can see from the video riding down Mt Ventoux, the camera seems to be pointing a little far down rather than straight ahead.
The mic is located on the bottom left side of the sunglass arm. It records in 16 bit mono. The mic produces wind noise while riding. You’ll need to tape a small peice of foam over the mic to reduce the wind noise if you want audio while riding.
I’m not so sure you’d buy these sunglasses with optical quality in mind, but they’re sufficient. They’re obviously not Oakley lenses, but what can you expect? The sunglasses come with a set of grey UV400 polarised lenses and there are a total of 5 different lenses you can buy separately.
Look and fit
This is something that’s hard to quantify because it will be different for everybody. Again, they’re not Oakley Jawbones and you’re probably buying these for the camera functionality over anything else. If you’re concerned about looks, they look more PRO than having a box protruding out of the top of your helmet.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive video camera that’s very convenient to use, these are an excellent option. Don’t expect the quality of the GoPro HD or Contour HD on a pair of Oakley Jawbones, but they’re very good for the job they’re designed for.